Eliana Marinari uses sfumato to paint fuzzy and dreamlike portraiture

While creating these stylistic works, Eliana’s process tends to begin with compiling photographs pulled from magazines or personal archives, which she then cuts, re-assembles into one source image and then redraws in graphite and pastels on paper. Sometimes, she’ll transfer the work onto a canvas. Next, she works on spraying the acrylic colours that she uses as a “glaze” – “semi-transparent layers that shroud the initial drawing like a Renaissance-style sfumato,” she says. The latter being a technique that allows tones and colours to shade gradually into one another, resulting in a hazy, dreamlike outcome that’s been mesmerisingly softened and blended. When using this technique, the work almost appears out of focus.
Now flourishing in her medium, Eliana spends most of her days working out of her studio. She pulls references from many of the industry greats, including Gerhard Richter who’s one of her main muses – a German artist who’s known for his photorealistic paintings and abstract expression. Eliana’s work sits in a similar realm of realism, where if you squint your eyes ever so slightly, you’ll start to question whether or not you’re looking at a photo or painting.
Every artist has their own technique to spark creative inspiration. For Eliana Marinari, she prefers to be alone in her studio, making sure to stick to a routine. Even if she’s not feeling it that day, or if the inspiration is lacking at times, she’ll just “start doing” and eventually something will lift off.
“I can spend a few days in the studio just ‘building’ the source image,” she continues, “and then several days for the pastel drawing, depending on the dimension of the piece. I often carry on multiple works in parallel.”
The artist has long associated her practice with a more traditional means of drawing, and from an early age she’s considered herself as “artsy”. Constantly creating something, she made her debut into the painterly medium at the ripe age of eight – “I had them at home, they were my grandfather’s,” she tells It’s Nice That. But despite this early introduction, Eliana ended up on a slightly different path studying science at university, graduating with a BA from the University of Florence. Her parents weren’t too happy with Eliana pursuing a career in the arts, which undeniably caused a great hurdle for the young artist-to-be. As things turned out, however, Eliana studied Fine Arts and specialised in drawing and oil painting later on, before deciding to continue her figurative painting practice in the city of London.